On my second day of solo exploration in Busan, I braved a 2-change, 20-stop subway ride, 15-minute walk, 20-minute bus ride up Geumjeongsan (a rather steep mountain), and a further 20-minute walk even further up the mountain to visit the most famous temple in Busan – Beomeosa.
Beomeosa, whose name translates as the Temple of the Nirvana Fish, was constructed in the year 678 during the Silla Dynasty, and is one of the head temples of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. It grew under the Goryeo Dynasty, totalling over 360 rooms and over 1000 resident monks, but was burned down during the Japanese invasion in 1592. Reconstructed in 1602, accidentally burned down again, and re-reconstructed in 1613, Beomeosa is nowadays one of the most well-known urban temples in South Korea.
When I visited, it was early on a Tuesday afternoon, and there were very few people walking around. It was quite a bit of effort walking up the mountain to get there, but I was wearing sandals unsuitable for walking – I recommend trainers or any decent shoes for walking up mountains!
It was very peaceful walking around, understandably because you have to be very quiet in respect for the people and monks worshipping. There were several prayer halls on the main square which you could look inside, but I was a bit wary of disturbing the worshippers with my camera shutter so I refrained from taking any photos of those.
I enjoyed exploring the area a little – I was able to walk down to one of the private halls, though of course couldn’t enter, and just experience the serenity of the surroundings. It was very calming, especially in comparison to Haedong Yonggungsa which was very busy and noticeably surrounded by urban areas.
I guess this is why it was a little strange for me when I happened across a car park right next to a side entrance to the temple! Wandering around the square and the halls and walking up to the entrance, it just felt so disconnected from the city and technology. But Beomeosa offers a temple stay experience, so it is understandable that there be a car park. You could see the temple stay visitors walking around the square, learning about the buildings and its history.
The only down side to my trip to Beomeosa was the length of time it took. The journey there was quite lengthy, but it didn’t actually take that long to walk around and see the whole of the place. I found myself looking for things to see to make the effort of the journey, and the imminent journey back, completely worth it. This could just be a personal problem though!
Despite the short time that it took me to walk around, my experience of Beomeosa was wonderful and I definitely recommend the trip to anyone visiting Busan with a few hours to spare. Going on a weekday is a very good idea as well, as there are very few tourists, even in the height of the summer.
I was happy to cross Beomeosa off my South Korea 2015 bucket list, and thoroughly enjoyed my time there! It was nice to let myself walk around without my camera in my hand as well (I know, I took photos, but I took a second lap of the place without my camera to fully take it all in), and even explored a little bit of forest with a pretty stream next to the temple grounds.
It was very impressive in its current form, and I can only imagine how amazing it was at its peak.
This is a post in my South Korea Second-Timer series. Read the others here!
My Holiday Bucket List
Part 1: Plane Panic and, um, Personal Space Please?
Part 2: Welcome to Busan!
Part 3: Hwamyeong, a Temple, and Being Spend Happy
Haedong Yonggungsa 해동용궁사 – The Water Temple
Gamecheon Culture Village 부산 감천문화마을
Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁